In most cases, any fork will need to be rebuilt after about a year of use. Seals typically need to be replaced and the first sign of a pending problem is leaking oil. If you ignore the problem and continue to ride the bike as-is, of course, you can ruin the fork.
Your local shop can do a typical seal replacement job, but chances are they simply do not have the tools and expertise to do anything beyond the minimal requirement.
I paid a visit to PUSH Industries and found a team of people dedicated to mountain bike suspension. Suspension is their specialty; it is the only thing they work on. No other bike maintenance of any kind is done at the facility.
Each technician has their own workstation equipped with a bank of parts and accessories to fine-tune a number of suspension systems. Each system is inspected by someone else before it is shipped. Discussion of a rebuild and teamwork is encouraged to ultimately ensure the customer receives the best possible solution. The technician responsible for the rebuild of your fork puts a card in the box so that if you have any questions about settings, or anything else, you have a direct line to the person who worked on your equipment.
Workstations at PUSH Industries.
In the last paragraph I mentioned a bank of parts that technicians use to rebuild your fork. These parts are not simply replacement parts from the manufacturer. They are parts that are the result of engineering design, in-house dynamometer testing, field testing and, finally, high-tech manufacturing.
Engineering design is done in-house and, as you might imagine, it is proprietary. I did get a quick glimpse at one of the parts on the CAD/CAM-type software SolidWorks/FeatureCam used by the company.
For those not familiar with these terms, CAD (Computer-aided Design) and CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) software helps engineers design parts that are:
- Possible to manufacture
- Fit together with other parts in the system
- Can be manufactured on CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines for a higher degree of accuracy and reproducibility
A PUSH Industries engineer.
If you want to skip the technical jargon, what all this means is that you get accurately designed and manufactured custom parts at a reasonable price.
In addition to high-quality parts and assembly, Darren recognizes that producing a top-shelf product cannot be done without attracting and keeping quality employees. All of the technicians are hand-picked, and they enjoy a work environment that is engaging as well as flexible. They simply love to work on suspension and they are all mountain bike riders. When you call with a question about your system reacting a particular way on rough terrain or on drops, they know exactly what you're talking about.
After putting in several hours of riding with my new shock and fork, I'm definitely pleased with the results. While I'm told it takes about four to six hours of use to fully break in the new parts, so far so good. Read a more detailed explanation on my blog. I can also tell you that every single person that I've spoken to who has had their fork "pushed" has been happy with the results.